India takes up gurdwara fire with Australia

January 14th, 2010 - 1:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) Amid outrage in India, specially in Punjab, over a fire in a gurdwara under construction in Melbourne, the Indian government Thursday said it was in touch with the Australian authorities over the incident.
“Our consulate in Melbourne is in the process of ascertaining details from the Gurdwara Management Committee and also following up on the incident with Australian authorities,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters here.

“It is learnt that some unidentified miscreants had set fire at the construction site, which is located about 300-odd metres from the Nanaksar Taath Gurdwara,” he said.

The spokesperson clarified that no one was injured and no structural damage has been caused to the building.

Some unidentified people tried to set ablaze the gurdwara building under construction in the Nanaksar Taath gurdwara complex Wednesday late night, located in the southeastern suburb of Cranbourne, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s city centre.

The “police suspect a bonfire on the site may have started the blaze”, said a report from ABC. This is the third major attack on Indians so far this year and comes close on the heels of the fatal stabbing of 21 year-old Nitin Garg (Jan 2) and an attempt to set 29-year-old Jaspreet Singh on fire (Jan 9).

The first-ever attack on a gurdwara in Australia has triggered condemnation from Sikhs in that country and in India, placing further strain on bilateral ties.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday strongly condemned the alleged torching, saying he will take up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Badal linked the torching bid to the recent incidents of alleged “racial discrimination” against Indians in Australia in which some Punjabis lost their lives.

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